This book addresses the issue of why 51.2% of the population of the USA failed to vote in the November 1996 presidential election. Through polls and studies conducted in the spring and summer of 1996, the contributors set out to answer the following questions: what were the 51.2 percent doing that day? Who are they? Why didn't they vote? The results are summarized into five types of nonvoters: doers, unplugged, irritable, don't knows and alienated.



Neither Kathy Smith nor Alma Romanowski, the two Alienated nonvoters we tracked, has voted. Smith isn't registered; Romanowski, thanks to the so-called motor-voter law, is.

Making registration easier moved Romanowski to register, if not to vote. But ease of registration will not move Smith even to register because she's convinced there's no point in registering for a futile action. That's her definition of voting. The 31-year-old resident of Olympia, Washington, recalls as a kid watching the election returns with her dad, a lifelong Democrat, when the television network announced who won before the polls in their neighborhood had closed. “Your vote didn't really count, did it?” she thought. She hasn't changed her mind since: She has never registered or voted.

The system only works for the ...

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